With Peacekeeping Budget at Some $8 Billion, Fifth Committee Speakers Call for 'Efficient, Effective and Accountable' Management of Operations
Source: United Nations General Assembly
May 10, 2010
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
31st Meeting (AM)
Resuming its consideration of peacekeeping finance and field support against the backdrop of an unprecedented $8 billion-plus peacekeeping budget, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today heard calls for a "clear message" to be sent to the Secretary-General on cross-cutting issues relating to peacekeeping administration and budgeting, on which agreement had eluded the Committee in the past two years.
Moreover, some said, the global field support strategy, introduced last week by Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra, would have a significant impact on organizational structures, lines of accountability, working methods, processes and procedures. More clarification was needed from the Secretariat on concrete gains to be obtained from that proposed initiative, if it was to move forward.
As noted by the representative of Japan, a resolution on cross-cutting issues was needed as a guide for the Secretary-General on the financial, budgetary and logistical aspects of peacekeeping, as well as human resources management and conduct and discipline.
"The need for an efficient, effective and accountable management of operations cannot be overemphasized at this juncture," he stressed, saying that inadequately managed resources could hinder effective operations.
He pointed out that strategies on information and communications technology and enterprise resource management had greater budgetary implications for peacekeeping operations than for the Organization's programme budget. As such, the Assembly needed to see a comprehensive and clear picture of managerial changes proposed under that item.
And, while implementation of resolution 63/250 in terms of civilian personnel would only be taken up at the Assembly's sixty-sixth session in the fall, he underscored the importance of knowing, in advance, the budgetary impacts of proposals for addressing high vacancy and turnover rates. One of Japan's suggestions was to carefully review and abolish posts and positions kept vacant for over one year for being "either inessential or unnecessary". Japan was particularly interested to hear the Secretary-General's view on the idea of setting a minimum period for assignments, as a way to avoid "over-posting".
China's representative, aligning himself with the "Group of 77" and China, remarked that although the number of peacekeeping operations had stayed the same in recent years, the number of peacekeeping personnel had increased from over 80,000 to nearly 140,000. He said States needed to carefully consider and address the divide between continuously growing peacekeeping demands and the "inadequacy" of peacekeeping capacity.
"Finding appropriate solutions to the cross-cutting issues concerning peacekeeping operations can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of peacekeeping operations," he said. China saw enhanced accountability among programme managers and reformed contractual arrangements for personnel as areas deserving attention. Improving procurement procedures, including increasing procurement opportunities from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, was another.
The representative of Uganda, aligning his views with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the global field support strategy presented by the Department of Field Support represented a "major shift" in thinking. However, as shown in discussions held on the topic, there were diverging views on how that strategy should be advanced.
He noted that the Secretariat had approached the strategy in two steps - first offering a "holistic" overview, to be followed by a design and implementation process after various concepts had met the Assembly's approval. However, he said, some States had a preference for a detailed outline of the strategy from the start, thus producing "a divergence of views".
His belief, he said, was that clarifying key issues of concern would help advance the Committee discussions, identifying two issues as important to discuss: how "modularization" could contribute to ensuring local and regional procurement opportunities; and how the strategy would address the needs of troop and police contributing countries. (For details on the proposed global field support strategy, please see Press Release GA/AB/3947).
He also touched on the idea of turning the logistics hub in Entebbe, Uganda, as the first regional service centre under the new strategy. An earlier General Assembly resolution had acknowledged the usefulness of using Entebbe as a logistics hub for peacekeeping operations region-wide, he said, adding that that idea was welcomed and supported by his Government.
But, he said, when refashioned as a regional service centre under the new policy, it would not have a logistics role except for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), which raised questions for his Government. It had questioned how efforts to enhance the development of regional and local economies would go forward under the proposed plan.
Under-Secretary-General Malcorra, who was present at today's meeting, assured the Committee that their "useful initial set of questions" would be pursued during informal consultations between her Department and Member States.
The Committee will meet again at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, 12 May, to discuss the support account for peacekeeping operations, as well as the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).